After a review by the RFU into England’s woeful Six Nations performance, Eddie Jones has kept his job, with the full backing of the governing body. As it happens, England’s lowest ebb may just have come at the perfect time.
“During the Six Nations we were not up to our usual high standards and we recognise that,” said Jones. “The debrief was a valuable process, we all learned a lot from the experience and most importantly we have identified actions to enable the team to move forward positively towards 2023.
“I’m looking forward to the summer tour which will provide a great opportunity to see more of our emerging talent and I’m confident our next team will come back stronger this autumn building up to a winning performance in the next Six Nations.”
England’s failures and Jones’ failures were clear for all to see. Their ill-discipline was atrocious and cost them as they lost to Scotland, Ireland and Wales to finish second bottom while their lack of fluidity or game management on the pitch was unusual for a side that has been so well-drilled under Jones.
This review, which featured ex and current players, board members and coaches took a deep dive into England’s failings during the tournament. One of the reasons cited was a lack of game time for the Saracens players heading into the Six Nations while Covid-19 was also to blame for several coaches missing sessions.
Losing is acceptable, some may say a necessity and England’s 2020 success appeared to paper over the underlying issues with this squad. Now, this failure has prompted a forward-thinking review of the international side and it seems as if changes are already being made, with the view to lifting the World Cup in 2023.
There will be a summer conference in an attempt to close the divide between international rugby and professional clubs, individual player data will be more closely scrutinised in an attempt to solve the ill-discipline issue and sports psychologists will talk to players on a more regular basis.
Added to this, external experts will be brought in to assist Jones after each campaign as the manager attempts to lead England to another World Cup final, as he did in 2019.
However, England’s performances this year have not been that of a side with aspirations to win the next World Cup in France. Luckily for Jones and his players, this low seems to have come at the perfect time. We are still two years away from the showpiece event and with several months to prepare for the Autumn internationals, it would be a surprise if England regressed any further. Finishing 5th in the Six Nations is as bad as it gets for this side and now it is done, they can begin to improve.
The steps the RFU have taken make for positive reading for England fans. Everybody involved now knows that what happened against Scotland, Wales and Ireland, is not acceptable and clear steps have been taken to make sure that it never happens again.
The disastrous 2021 Six Nations campaign has allowed England to hit the much-needed reset button. More analysis, more scrutiny and more responsibility can only be a good thing for results. Who knows, losing to Scotland at Twickenham could have been the turning point that sees Jones lift the World Cup in 2023.